The Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza is the gateway to the Central Library which is the premier space for the Houston Public Library. The Central Library links the community to resources that will help them unlock their potential and create a better life for themselves. In addition to providing books and periodicals, the Central Library is a critical technological hub with over 230,000 computer users. Each computer station serves over 900 individuals throughout the year at this one location.
The Central Library serves 119,600 individuals who are at or below the federal poverty level annually. Many of those in need are indigent. The Plaza is a safe space to congregate, and human service organizations use this connection to provide medical screenings, distribute toiletries and supplies, and suggest connections with additional local services. All Library visitors have access to a wide variety of programs that focus on the needs of our diverse communities. The majority of Library programs align with Youth Services, Job Readiness, Digital Inclusion, and Special Collections. One element that unites all of those unique yet essential services is literacy.
Literacy is the key to success at every stage of a person’s life. Children are more successful in school if they have reading readiness by the time they enter kindergarten. This begins at birth with parents reading or singing to their children. Studies have shown that students are more successful if they have books in the home.
The need to improve literacy also involves 20% of Houston’s adult population. The Library offers classes where adults can learn how to read without a social stigma. Literacy is the core component to our library system, and collectively, we must elevate the need for literacy to the highest level. Literacy is the cornerstone to being successful, and a community with a high literacy rate also has higher productivity and even higher incomes.